Sam Houston a Virginia-born lawyer, soldier and politician who gained enduring fame as a leader of the Texas Revolution. After commanding Texan troops to victory over Mexican forces in the Battle of San Jacinto, he became the first president of the Lone Star Republic and one of the first two U.S. senators to represent Texas after it joined the Union in 1845. He had said; “When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people … and … becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression … it is a … sacred obligation to their posterity to abolish such government, and create another in its stead.”
Today, the situation and happenings in Nigeria bring back sad remembrances and echoes of the events preceding the Nigeria- Biafra civil war. Wars have had an important part in psychiatric history in a number of ways. It was the psychological impact of the world wars in the form of shell shock that supported the effectiveness of psychological interventions during the first half of the 20th century. It was the recognition of a proportion of the population not suitable for army recruitment during the Second World War that spurred the setting up of the National Institute of Mental Health in USA.
Instructively, among the consequences of war, the impact on the mental health of the civilian population is one of the most significant. Studies of the general population show a definite increase in the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders. Women are more affected than men. Other vulnerable groups are children, the elderly and the disabled. Prevalence rates are associated with the degree of trauma, and the availability of physical and emotional support. The use of cultural and religious coping strategies is frequent in developing countries.
Interestingly, there are no real victors in wars as all parties involved have to suffer the consequences with often high numbers of casualties on both sides. Rather than dealing with the consequences resulting from a war and its end, this article will look into its direct effects on people, politics, the economy and the environment. The psychological effects, too, have an impact on the everyday lives of the survivors. Fear and insecurity resulting from daily experiences of war—whether as perpetrators or victims—leave traces. Late symptoms can be post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. These consequences affect civilians and soldiers alike.
“The war will never be over, never, as long as somewhere a wound it had inflicted is still bleeding,” Heinrich Böll, German Nobel Prize winner for literature, characterised the long-term effects of wars. War-wounded—be they soldiers or civilians—often suffer from the physical injuries for decades. Often, they have to learn to live with mutilations, having been blinded or deafened. Effects of war also include mass destruction of cities and have long lasting effects on a country’s economy. … Armed conflict has important indirect negative.
Flowing from above, the current unpleasant and highly disturbing circumstances of our beloved country Nigeria is worrisome. All the indicators of the painful and avoidable incidents of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, which became one of the most divisive wars in the history of post-independence Africa. Its traumatic effects, evident in persistent ethnic animosities and distrust, that continues to shape the narrative of Nigerian identity and the nation’s future is again rearing its urgly head. Issues of religious intolerance, extremism, exuberance, terrorism, kidnappings, insurgency, killings and banditry have been in high rise and the system put on the highest alert in the past few months.
Ironically, the current situation in our beloved country Nigeria today, is not different to some war ravaged countries like somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Sadly, Nigerians believes that something is not right or leadership seems to be taken aback. The unfortunate situation is akin to what we read about Emperor Nero while Rome blazed: Perhaps the most infamous of Rome’s emperors, Nero Claudius Caesar (37-68 A.D.) who ruled Rome from 54 A.D. until his death by suicide 14 years later. He is best known for his debaucheries, political murders, persecution of Christians and a passion for music that led to the probably apocryphal rumor that Nero “fiddled” while Rome burned during the great fire of 64 A.D. Borrowing from the title of the epic movie on Emperor Nero; I now ask of Nigeria, “Quo Vadis?”
The drumbeat of war is sounding on the streets as Nigeria prepares for the 2023 general elections. The election, due in February, 2023 has heightened the already tensed atmosphere. Our fault-lines have been widened, religious and ethnic issues have further polarized our citizens, resulting in divisiveness, that is worse than post Nigerian/Biafran civil war. But a far more insidious deciding factor in the polls could be Nigeria’s religious coloration. Amid the collapse of state machinery for protection of lives and property, anarchy has been let loose upon Nigeria. The Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all) characterized by bloodlettings, communal bloody feud, abductions, banditry and so forth, now reign supreme in Nigeria. No day passes without frightening incidents.
In the same vain, s good friend of mine, a product of the Federal Government College system is convinced that Nigeria was much more United after the Civil War than it is now. There are too many cleavages now. Judging from the interactions on their Federal Government College WhatsApp group chat, he is appalled that a great number of the old students have retreated into their ethnic and religious cocoons. They identify themselves by tribe, first. Then region and religion, regardless of the pretensions to being Nigerian. There is work to be done on creating the NIGERIAN.
In conclusion, permit me to conclude this article with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. An African American church leader and the son of early civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Sr. He had said; “…I found myself in full accord when I read (the statement’s) opening lines: ‘A time comes when silence is betrayal,’ “ King told the crowd gathered at Riverside Baptist Church in New York.
Finally, I like to dedicate this article to the evergreen memory of Chinua Achebe a Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic who is regarded as the dominant figure of modern African literature. His first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart (1958), occupies a pivotal place in African literature and remains the most widely studied, translated and read African novel. Along with Things Fall Apart, his No Longer at Ease (1960) and Arrow of God. Chinua Achebe’s “There was a Country” speaks volumes. Things have, arguably, fallen apart. Anarchy looms large. The recent bravado of the terrorists killing officers and men of the elite Brigade of Guards leaves a sour taste in our mouths. The road to anarchy!
Things have really fallen apart – ARISE ‘O Compatriots.
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI